The faculty at Scottsboro High School had a special guest at their first meeting for this school year. Retired educator Joyce Kennamer spoke to the teachers about caring for the students.
“Your students need to know that you care about them and that they can trust you,” she said.
Kennamer is one of those who taught Scottsboro High School Principal Rob Paradise. He said that Kennamer is the person who influenced him the most in high school. Her influence remains with Paradise today.
“When you walked into her room, you knew whose room you were in,” said Paradise.
She had high expectations of her students both in school and in their community. She expected them to be active in their communities as many of them are today.
Kennamer reminded the teachers that every child has problems both good and bad. She encouraged them to speak with students when they need someone to listen.
“Let what you discuss be between you and that student,” she said. “They trust you. You need to have high expectations of your students,” added Kennamer. “Demand that they do their best and let them know you care. They have got to know that you care. You don’t expect every child to make all A’s, but you expect them to do the best that they can.”
“You never know what goes on behind closed doors,” said Kennamer. Students today come with their problems just as students did in the past.
Kennamer always loved history, but she hated math. She said this was a factor in her becoming a teacher.
She looked at the college catalog for a curriculum that involved the least amount of math. She did end up having to take some math during college as she was earning her degree in education.
During her career, Kennamer taught every grade from kindergarten through 12th grade. The last 13 years of her career she taught history. When she started teaching in 1951, teachers lived together in a dorm setting. Her starting salary was $1,600 a year.
Kennamer has fond memories of some teachers who were special to her. She remembers a note from her third grade and fourth grade teachers. She called one of her high school teachers every day for the last four years of her life.
Paradise told the faculty that Kennamer’s influence is still seen in the community today. She taught several principals and teachers, and many who hold political offices including the probate judge, some city councilmen, and a county commissioner. She still follows the accomplishments of her former students.
“I appreciate your influence in my life,” Paradise told Kennamer. Kennamer taught Paradise at Skyline High School.
Paradise reminded those present that a school employee’s influence lasts a lifetime,” said Paradise. “Programs come and go, but your influence in the lives of our students matters the most. The best thing about being a teacher is that it matters. The hardest thing about being a teacher is that it matters every day.”
This quote by Todd Whitaker, educator, author, and motivational speaker, is one of Paradise’s favorites.
“I hope you see the influence you have starting from day one,” Paradise told his faculty.